The Housing and Poverity Advocacy Group and the Micah Center as a whole got behind this campaign in a big way. We recruited petitioners to get signatures in an effort to get a ballot initiative before all voters to raise the Michigan minimum wage. In the months of March though May 2014, we mobilized about 50 people to hit the streets and they collected over 2,000 signatures as part of a Raise Michigan coalition across the state. The coalition exceeded its goal, and a result of this grass roots effort, the state legislature quickly passed a law to raise the minimum wage from 7.40 per hour to 9.25 per hour over a three-year period. We are pleased that this small step of progress has been made for low-wage workers in our state, but we will consider how more can be done in the future. The actual ballot initiative we supported would raise the wage even higher and as of July, 2014 a decision is still pending as to whether or not that could still be on the fall ballot.
The Housing & Poverty Advocacy Group sponsored a series of Micah Center showings and discussions of this six-part video produced by the Acton Institute. The showings and discussions had a very good turnout of interested persons and generated some excellent discussions in regard to different viewpoints of addressing global poverty. As a result of this series, the Micah Center now has a small group of members involved in developing our own statement of core values in regard to how we approach advocacy in general.
In 2013 the Housing and Poverty advocacy group worked to restore the State of Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit to 20% of an eligible person's federal tax credit from the recent reduction to the 6% level. Efforts to secure this goal involved partnering with other like-minded groups across Michigan and direct lobbying with our state legislators. We are disappointed to report that the newly proposed 2015 state budget does not include a provisions for any expansion of the EITC. We will consider any opportunity that may arise in 2014 - 2015 where reviving this effort is warranted.
The Housing & Poverty Advocacy Group is hoping to mobilize volunteers who would be involved in this effort not only in August through October of 2014, but also considers it an ongoing effort to connect with and encourage members of the community to use their voice in the voting process going forward. This encouragement is especially important for those who do not feel they have much of a voice or are discouraged from participating in this important process to bring about positive change.
We hope to sponsor and/or develop a participatory simulation based on one that has been done by other organizations as part of the Micah Center Agenda in the spring of 2015.
The Poverty & Hunger group will continue to partner with Bread for the World to address federal public policies regarding programs which aid the poor and hungry in the US and around the world. Efforts in this partnership include presenting / promoting BFW's 2014 & 2015 Offering of Letters campaign and contacting federal legislator's offices directly by mail, e-mail, telephone, and face-to-face visits.
The Housing and Poverty advocacy continues to seek to raise awareness among individuals, churches and groups in hopes of increasing more involvement in advocacy for polices and programs that can assist those in our local and global community struggling under the yoke of poverty and hunger. We also seek to connect with some of these same people who want to be involved with pursuing ideas and efforts of their own. We are interested in speaking with congregations and organizations about: the causes of poverty and hunger, and ways we can make a difference for our community and other countries. Options could be a single presentation or a 2 - 4 session book or film discussion on the subject.
Film Options include: "A Place at the Table" (90 min), "The Line" (45 min)
Book Options Include: Exodus From Hunger - David Beckmann - 2010. Full Planet, Empty Plates - Lester Brown - 2012. We are open to other ideas here as well.
Engagement opportunities may include advocating for doable, winnable, actions or in some cases directly connect our members to individuals or groups involved in aiding those facing poverty and hunger.
For more information about setting up a presentation or a book study in your church, please call Chuck Clemence at 616-940-0177 or email@example.com.